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OT - The Greatest Disaster the World Has Ever Known.



 
 
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  #1  
Old December 28th 04, 04:10 PM
Kathy N-V
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Default OT - The Greatest Disaster the World Has Ever Known.

I'm sitting in my den, eating my breakfast of a banana and toast,
reading an online newspaper. Everything is pretty normal for a
winter morning he Sophie is begging for bits of banana and
anything else she can scrounge, Manda leans over me and grabs a piece
of toast. Bob is showering, getting ready for work, and I hear the
radiators hissing and clunking and doing their thing to warm the
house. As I said, a normal December morning.

A phrase in the newspaper pops up at me: "This is the greatest
disaster the world has ever known. It is beyond me why are we so
stingy, really. . . . Even Christmastime should remind many Western
countries at least how rich we have become." (partial quote of a
United Nations official's speech)

I think about his statement, and how many times I've heard the first
part of it. The Greatest Disaster the World Has Ever Known. This
tsunami is a total horror, and for those who have lost everything,
indeed it is, and will continue to be, the greatest disaster they
will ever know. Yet part of me wonders how many times this
individual has said these exact words, maybe even to some of the same
journalists, in his description of a natural disaster that has
devastated the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

Yet, this year alone, many thousands of people have died in
hurricanes that tore through the Carribean and the Southern United
States, famines, locusts and civil war have killed untold millions in
Africa, and the monsoon season is just beginning in Asia. War,
declared and undeclared, a "war on drugs" or "on terrorism" or
whatever cause is determined to be the most pressing today is killing
thousands or millions of people as well. AIDS will leave nearly an
entire generation of African children to grow up as orphans, without
any adult to care for them or teach them the skills they will need to
survive in a harsh world. But the words are echoing through my head:
The Greatest Disaster the World Has Ever Known.

I turn on the television news, looking for a little more information
on the tsunami, which I have just learned, means "harbor wave" in
Japanese. The more familiar term of "tidal wave" is a misnomer,
because tides have nothing to do with the horrific waves that cannot
be seen until they actually hit their innocent targets. Again, there
are a few films of a tropical, devistated beach, covered with blobs
that were people just a few days ago. I cannot look: the thought
that these disgusting rotting things were laughing, fighting,
ordinary people just like me is too much to watch dispassionately as
I eat my breakfast, or any other time.

The television news immediately skips to another story; this one
about the foot and a half of snow that has blanketed the local area.
The announcer sent out to get some film is a pretty Indian woman. I
wonder if she is worried that some friends or relatives have been
affected by the wave. A moment later, she is off my screen, replaced
by a grieving mother of a soldier killed in Iraq. She sits on the
flowered sofa that seems reserved for parents of such victims, a few
photos of her dead son at his prom, in his Marine uniform, looking
happy and focused on the future are mounted on the wall behind her.
It's a future that will never happen. I'm sure that for her, today
will be the day of The Greatest Disaster the World Has Ever Known.

I turn back to the newspaper. A Red Cross representative repeats the
phrase again, and talks about money. He seems almost angry, not
really asking or pleading, but demanding that people pay attention
and pay up. "We don't want clothing or food" he says, "it's much
easier for us to have cash so we can buy what we need locally."

My radar goes up. Of course, a snow parka or someone's outgrown,
worn out boots will do no good whatsoever in a tropical area, but the
insistance on cash and plenty of it, makes me wonder. I know how much
aid is skimmed before it ever reaches the victims of a tragedy, and
cash is a lot easier to spend than bottles of spring water, no?

I am not heartless, just the opposite. I know that for these people,
the wave that hit on Christmas Day will have repercussions that will
last the rest of their lives and beyond. Perhaps two or three
generations from now, there will be old people, talking about losing
their homes, boats and families in a huge catastrophic wall of water
that destroyed their lives in a moment, without any warning at all,
and receded just as quickly, leaving destruction behind under a
beautiful cloudless sky.

Many tiny towns, just barely clinging to economic survival before
Sunday, will simply cease to exist. The survivors will move on to
higher ground and better opportunities, and the wreckage of buildings
and roads, what there were of them, will be reclaimed by the jungle
and ocean. In a few years, it will be difficult to see any signs
whatsoever that humans ever inhabited this spot.

The Greatest Disaster the World Has Ever Known. The words are still
ringing in my ears and bouncing around in my mind. I'm sure that the
United Nations fellow was sincere, he certainly wasn't knowingly
lying when he said them. He said words he feels are true and
necessary to get money needed to help rebuilt these nameless places a
world away - places that will be wiped away by wind and water once
again some other time, simply by the bad luck of location.

The rest of his statement has become a cliche as well: "These Rich
Westerners are celebrating Christmas while so many suffer..." By
Westerners, he means Americans, of course, since everyone knows that
we are the cause of and solution to all the suffering in the world.
Cancelling Christmas because of a far away tragedy, while sounding
noble, wouldn't help matters, and our even knowing is merely a result
of the swiftness of communication.

When a third of the world died of the plague during the middle ages,
there was no way to communicate what had happened, or to ask for
help. Many places never knew that the plague that befell them had
also affected a village twenty miles away, and countries half a world
away. Hundreds of years would pass before anyone would realize that
a significant portion of the world's population had been erased in a
few horrific, confusing and terrifying years. There was no spokesman
to plead for money or to say that it was The Greatest Disaster the
World Has Ever Known. (although arguably, it could be called that.)

The UN spokesman's words are sincere, I believe, but they cheapen the
horror that these people have gone through, and ultimately, keep them
from getting help they desperately need. Disasters are intensely
personal things, from the Marine's mother who lost her son, to the
nineteen year old shot in a drive-by last night, to the hundreds of
thousands of people whose lives were washed away in an instant.

Disasters can also be global - the effects of massacre, civil war and
disease cannot even be comprehended, and will need the perspective of
history to tally just what we have lost as a region, as a world.
Perhaps that will turn out to be The Greatest Disaster the World Has
Ever Known. Some losses can never be measured - the grandson of a
Nazi Holocaust victim might well have been the person who would have
discovered a vaccine for AIDS, saving a billion or more people who
will die of this disease, so her loss might be The Greatest Disaster
the World Has Ever Known.

The chiding and anger cannot be helpful, either. I know what this
man is thinking: "In the face of The Greatest Disaster the World Has
Ever Known, the response isn't big enough or fast enough. Think of
how many lives are being lost while assistance groups get their act
together."

I hate to break it to him, but assistance is never quick enough,
generous enough, or able to prevent all horrors that take place in
the wake of a disaster. Sadly, assistance is rarely more effective
than a band-aid and a kiss on a boo-boo from a concerned mother in
such situations. All the assistance in the world will not undo a
tsunami, or a war, or an epidemic. It can help ease some further
suffering, but that's it. It will never turn back the clock, even
for a moment, and make sure that a bad thing didn't happen.

I will give money in the weeks and months to come, when the depth of
assistance needed has been determined, and the people responsible for
helping have been identified. I won't kid myself that I've saved
millions, or even one life. I will give because it is the right
thing to do, and perhaps I can alleviate the suffering of a person in
an unintentionally amusing place named Phucket. Maybe even a person
who has just experienced The Greatest Disaster the World Has Ever
Known.

Kathy N-V

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  #2  
Old December 29th 04, 12:20 AM
melinda
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Kathy N-V wrote:

[snip]

I will give money in the weeks and months to come, when the depth of
assistance needed has been determined, and the people responsible for
helping have been identified. I won't kid myself that I've saved
millions, or even one life. I will give because it is the right
thing to do, and perhaps I can alleviate the suffering of a person in
an unintentionally amusing place named Phucket. Maybe even a person
who has just experienced The Greatest Disaster the World Has Ever
Known.


Kathy N-V


It actually happened Sunday morning, Boxing Day, caused by an
enourmous(sp) earthquake off the Indonesian provence of Ache.
8 Australians have lost their lives at Phucket so far, most
tragic IMO was the death of a 6 month old girl washed from her
father's arms.

There are areas of Ache that have been heard from, authorities,
etc. are hoping it's just because that the survivors have moved
to higher ground and have no communications. Last I heard the
death toll was at 30 000 and expected to rise, although they'll
probably never know the true death toll.

--
Melinda
http://cust.idl.com.au/athol
  #3  
Old December 29th 04, 01:51 AM
Cheryl
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Kathy
I have to agree -- I hardly think this is the "greatest Disaster the World has
Ever Known" - it's not even the biggest (in loss of life) tsunami disaster ever
to occur.
it's only about six or eighth on the list (depending on the current death toll
you read).

AS far as the "greatest Disaster The World has EVER known"
it's NOT EVEN CLOSE.

I see that the UN guy apologized for his comments today...
backpedaling really fast... and admitting the US has given the most already...

Hope someone served him "crow pie" for lunch.

As for disasters-- all disasters are personal to those who live them....
we can offer up our prayers for those who are suffering - but basically when my
government is giving away millions and millions in tax dollars, I hard think my
contribution is going to make much of a difference.
I kind of look on these world wide disasters where the US should rush in and
"rescue" everyone else like I did
the phrase "clean your plate, there are children starving in India."

yes - they are -but what has my plate got to do with it?

When the World Trade Center 9/11 happened - we did not have other countries
rushing into the US offering millions of dollars to help .... yeah - the sent
some search and rescue teams and such -- but pretty much we were on our own....
When the huge Earthquake hit CA a few years back - we didn't see MILLIONS of
dollars in AID get sent to this country to rebuild the infrastructure...

When FLORIDA was hit with FOUR hurricanes this year - with BILLIONS of dollars
in losses -- other countries did NOT rush in to help us rebuild.

I'm tired of being the world's charity organization...

Charity begins at HOME...
when there are no starving homeless shivering on our streets, and Appalachian
children living in shacks with little or no schooling, when American inner city
children all have a decent home, warm meals, warm clothing and DECENT EDUCATION
-- I'll worry about "all the starving children in India."

India has had nearly a century to modernize - and got a good start from the
British -- they have the means to get where we are today - if they would work
at it like the American people did.

I'm sorry - but I'm tired of it -- all of it.
I don't want our troops off in other countries playing "save the poor" -- we
aren't the world police.
WE have BILLIONS in unpaid debt notes to foreign countries (Japan and China
being the largest note holders) - and we are giving away more money every day
to other countries?
what kind of fiscal sense is that?
That's like me - being $80K in debt and standing on the street corner and
handing out $100 bills to every person who walks by - just so they will "like
me"

The US needs to give up this worry about public image - and stop spending us to
death...
sorry - the rest of the world should just suck it up and start trying to take
care of their own problems!
BAh.....

Cheryl
DRAGON BEADS
Flameworked beads and glass
http://www.dragonbeads.com/

  #4  
Old December 29th 04, 02:17 AM
Linda2
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OMTP.

Well said, Cheryl, and I agree 110%.


Linda2


  #5  
Old December 29th 04, 04:19 AM
Cheri2Star
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As far as this being the Greatest Disaster the World has ever seen, that
remains to be seen. As it was pointed out, the monsoon season is about to
start. So many people without homes, what will happen to them in the monsoons?
There's no way to get 50,000+ people buried in time. The water supply will be
contaminated. There will be cholera, typhoid and who knows what else. People
will die of dehydration, starvation and exposure to the elements. I don't know
if this will rival the Black Plague, but I wouldn't be surprised to see
hundreds of thousands dead before it's all over. It's a huge disaster,
certainly the Greatest Disaster of the past 200 or more years.

I agree with a lot of what Cheryl said. In theory, she's right. But we can
help, and we should. Whether from government money or our own, they need our
help desperately.

Cheri
(Bubbee to Emily and Nathan)

It's my life
And it's now or never
I ain't gonna live forever
I just want to live while I'm alive - Bon Jovi
  #6  
Old December 29th 04, 04:30 AM
Arondelle
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vj wrote:
...HOWEVER, many many many people felt burned by the Red Cross
after 9/11 when they found out the money they'd donated did NOT wind
up where they thought it would. they hold back for 'other
emergencies' and a lot of people resent that. in addition to your
other concerns.


Other emergencies like 30 families (most of whom were not insured) being
burned out of their apartments on a freezing NH winter night. :-/

When I called the Red Cross Sept 12, 2001 to find out what I could do,
the person taking calls was very happy that I didn't want to donate
blood, something which they didn't need and couldn't have gotten to NY,
anyway.

She also told me that the Red Cross's local fund had been severely
depleted by a number of local emergencies during the summer. I was
given the choice to donate to the national fund, which was supposed to
be going to NY, or to designate my contribution for the local fund.

Having benefitted from their aid on that winter night, and knowing what
it cost, I chose the latter option.

It's plain to me that the folks who resented the fact that their money
didn't go to striken New Yorkers apparently never had to depend on the
Red Cross for aid themselves. I think their resentment would only last
until the emergency was in their own community.

Arondelle
--
================================================== =========
To email me, empty the pond with a net

  #7  
Old December 29th 04, 02:43 PM
Marisa Cappetta
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I have a personal attachment and simply can't intellectualise the pros and
cons of giving aid. We sponsor a child in Bangladesh. He sent us a letter,
mailed before the tsunami, which I received today. In it he sent a special
message of love to my DS, they are about the same age. He wants to be a
teacher and he draws beautifully, we have one which we treasure. His village
has just had a water filter installed. He tells us they no longer have
arsenic in their drinking water. For me, giving is not just the right thing
to do, it's the essential thing. I feel happy to know that at least a few
children and their families have water that is not poisoned. I just hope
they escaped the disaster.

I hope aid comes in time to help as many families as possible.
--
Marisa (AU/NZ)
www.galleryvittoria.com


I will give money in the weeks and months to come, when the depth of
assistance needed has been determined, and the people responsible for
helping have been identified. I won't kid myself that I've saved
millions, or even one life. I will give because it is the right
thing to do, and perhaps I can alleviate the suffering of a person in
an unintentionally amusing place named Phucket. Maybe even a person
who has just experienced The Greatest Disaster the World Has Ever
Known.

Kathy N-V


  #8  
Old December 29th 04, 09:24 PM
Dr. Sooz
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~~~I'm sorry - but I'm tired of it -- all of it.
I don't want our troops off in other countries playing "save the poor"
-- we
aren't the world police.~~~

What I'd like to see is birth control practiced responsibly WORLDWIDE.
A lot of these people, who are poor as **** in the first place, are
crying about their missing ELEVEN CHILDREN. I'd also like to see
responsible eco-management......destruction of the mangroves and the
coral reefs is responsible for the a lot of the magnitude of the
tsunami destruction in this particular disaster.
I don't mean to be cold. But for god's sake!

~Sooz

  #9  
Old December 29th 04, 09:27 PM
Dr. Sooz
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You're right, Cheri. I think this disaster has only gotten started.
The followup is going to be horrendous and massive -- disease and
economic collapse.
~ Sooz

~~~As far as this being the Greatest Disaster the World has ever seen,
that
remains to be seen. As it was pointed out, the monsoon season is about
to
start. So many people without homes, what will happen to them in the
monsoons? There's no way to get 50,000+ people buried in time. The
water supply will be contaminated. There will be cholera, typhoid and
who knows what else. People will die of dehydration, starvation and
exposure to the elements. I don't know if this will rival the Black
Plague, but I wouldn't be surprised to see
hundreds of thousands dead before it's all over. It's a huge disaster,
certainly the Greatest Disaster of the past 200 or more years.~~~

  #10  
Old December 29th 04, 09:29 PM
Dr. Sooz
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Really good point, Vicki. (I see both sides of everything too, it's a
curse)

~~~and here i'm of two minds.
[i have a lot of trouble with seeing two sides to most things]
we are NOT the world police.
**however** we are the biggest kid on the playground. so there ARE
times we need to stand up for the little guy, to keep him from being
bullied. and to take a stand against bullies in general.~~~

 




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